Tynan Abbey in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, was a large neo-gothic-romantic country house built circa 1750 (later renovated circa 1815) and situated outside the village of Tynan. It was home to the Stronge family until 1981, when it was bombed; its ruin was finally demolished in 1998, having stood for 249 years.
The original house on this site was called Fairview and was the home of the Manson family, it was acquired by the Stronges through the marriage of Dr. John Stronge and Elinor Manson. At this time Fairview was described by Thomas Ashe as a "very pretty house, well timbered and regularly built. It is two stories high. There are good chambers and garrets above staires, a hansome parlour, a common Hall, a Kitchen Sellars and their Convenient Offices a Good Stable Barne and Cow house a Good Garden and Orchard". The library, in which the last of the Stronges were killed, was believed to have dated to this original house.
The building of Tynan Abbey itself (as Fairview would become) took place under the ownership of the Stronges. By 1816 Mrs Calvert, the mother-in-law of Sir James Stronge, 1st Bt., described the house, which was under construction, as "very ugly...I don't think I shall ever like the house...I have a comfortable enough room...all the other rooms are unfinished and even without windows...the staircase without banisters and all about unfinished". By 1822 Mrs Calvert thought Tynan Abbey "very pretty and the place very nice, but somewhat exposed".
By 1838 George Petrie of the Ordnance Survey described it as a "fine specimen of bastard and vile gothic architecture." In 1855, however, Sir Bernard Burke said it has a "picturesque appearance". One hundred years after this assertion Tynan Abbey was still being pondered upon; Richard Hayward questioned its "dubious...architectural integrity, but mellowed by time, humanised by generations of affectionate occupancy."
Tynan included an octagonal stone spire and square turret (resembling a chapel), in reality this merely housed the water tanks. The castle was surrounded by an extensive estate, once amounting to over 8,000 acres (32 km²), including park-land and a lake.
Royal Ulster Constabulary occupation and the Second World War
In 1923, part of the building was occupied by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the R.U.C.) rent-free for protection purposes. During the Second World War, it was again occupied by British, Belgian and American troops; leaving a legacy of Nissen huts.
At the time of Sir Norman Stronge's murder, The Irish Times reported that, "They [the Stronges] were completely the local big family, still living in an enormous mansion though everyone knew the father and son used only a few rooms of it, with a housekeeper and a landsteward who lived out. Neither had much interest in farming – most of the acres was let."
Destruction of Tynan Abbey
On 21 January 1981, 86-year-old Sir Norman Stronge, Bt., and his only son, James, 48 (both former MPs), were killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. The house was then burnt to the ground. The bodies of the father and son were later recovered from their blazing home.
They were targeted as they sat in the main library of their 230-year-old mansion. The terrorists who carried out the murders forced entry into the Abbey by bombing the heavy front doors. Afterward the building was fire bombed. The fire raged until the next morning, leaving the contents of the Abbey destroyed and the house itself burned to the ground.
In 1995 the Historic Buildings Branch of the Department of the Environment (the D.o.E.) recalled that listed building consent to partial demolition had been granted in 1983. However, the Historic Buildings Branch noted it was keen to have the "listing status retained or stabilised as a ruin. It still holds a lot of historic and architectural interest in its present state."
In 1998, prior to the ruins of Tynan Abbey being demolished, a man was seriously injured in a mysterious explosion there, which may have been a booby-trap bomb.
The lands, several thousand acres, remain in the possession of the family of Sir Norman Stronge's daughter Daphne Kingan (d. 2002) – James and Kate Kingan and their three children, Charlotte, Esme and Edward, (James was an Ulster Unionist Party candidate in the elections of 1993 and 1997). Tynan Abbey was demolished in 1998 due to the unstable structure of the ruin, all that remains is the arch of the front door surround. The family do, however, hope that a new house may be built on the site
- "Buildings of County Armagh", Brett, Sir Charles E. B., 1999, p. 88-90, ISBN 0-900457-54-6
- IRA Atrocities
- Landowner's of County Tyrone
- Turtle Bunbury historian and travel writer
- 'The Green Book: I' from 'The IRA' by Tim Pat Coogan (1993)
- Biographies of Members of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
- Tit-for-Tat Murder 2 February 1981
- Turtle Bunbury historian and travel writer